Chapel Hill, N.C. — UNC Health Care officials said Thursday that they are working to join forces with Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System, creating a network of hospitals, other health facilities and physician practices stretching across most of North Carolina.
The two systems have signed a letter of intent to join their clinical, medical education and research resources, and officials said they expect to hammer out a final deal by the end of the year.
“By integrating our organizations, we are combining the strengths of two great health systems, providing greater access to a full range of services and leading-edge treatments for patients, enabling better coordination of care and advancing research,” Dr. William Roper, chief executive of UNC Health Care and dean of the UNC School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Carolinas HealthCare System is one of the most innovative health care organizations in the nation, particularly in combining world-class clinical care with a community care model. By combining our two extremely mission-focused organizations, we will offer an unparalleled array of services, expertise and experiences for our patients and communities – beyond what either of us could do independently.”
Following are some of the services the combined system will offer:
- Options for care close to home for both urban and rural populations
- Seven nationally-ranked adult clinical service lines and nine nationally-ranked pediatric clinical service lines
- Research opportunities to find new cures and change the way care is delivered
- Nearly 1,400 active clinical trials to help uncover health solutions and deliver treatments
- Physician training at the UNC School of Medicine, through more than 100 residency programs in a network of teaching hospitals across the state and through lifelong learning for providers
- Collaboration with other health care providers to improve patient experience and bring affordable care to the state
“Together with UNC Health Care, we believe that the opportunities to be a national model and to elevate health in North Carolina are nearly limitless,” Gene Woods, president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare, said in a statement.
Woods, who is slated to become CEO of the combined system, cited rural health care and cancer treatment as two areas that will benefit from the merger.
“Since our organizations already serve almost 50 percent of all patients who visit rural hospitals in our state, we are perfectly positioned to participate in the reinvention of rural health care in partnership with others,” he said. “Ensuring there is great health care in rural counties is not only important to our patients’ physical well-being, but is also vital to the economic well-being of those communities as well.”
The Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill has been a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center for more than 40 years and has received more than $70 million in cancer research grants for clinical trials. Meanwhile, the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte serves more than 10,000 new patients every year, and more than 1,000 of them participate in clinical trials in dozens of locations in North and South Carolina.
Roper will serve as executive chairman of the new organization.